FEARS are growing that Melksham’s two new tennis courts, part of the £23m campus project, could see a 100 per cent hike in hire fees if they are taken over by the town’s tennis club

The town’s area board was told people in the town were also worried they might have difficulty hiring the courts if they come under the tennis club’s control - and that they fear the club plans to charge £10-£15 for one hour of play, against the £6 per court which used to be charged before the improvements.

The club has yet to sign an agreement to manage and maintain the two new hard tennis courts at Melksham House. It has so far declined to pay 50 per cent towards the running of the new Melksham Cricket Club Pavilion nearby, which would be part of the deal.

If a deal is not reached, tennis club members or casual hirers would not be able to use the toilets there, or use the pavilion’s water supply to clean the floodlit courts.

Tennis Club secretary Eddy Watts declined to comment on the situation to the Times, saying: “You will need to talk to the council.”

A Wiltshire Council spokesman said: “We are working with the club to ensure that the new tennis courts are accessible to all; we are working with the club on booking arrangements and the timetabling of public access.

“Our sports development team will also continue to work with Melksham Tennis Club to support the long-term sustainability and development of both the club and the facility.

“Both the club and the council are committed to increasing participation in the sport.

“The courts have now had their final colour treatment and can now be used by the public. Melksham Tennis Club have put interim arrangements in place to ensure immediate access for the public.”

Melksham’s mayor, Cllr Jon Hubbard, who chairs Wiltshire Council’s Melksham area board, said he was pressing for “fair public access” to the courts for everyone.

He said: “At the recent area board meeting, we were absolutely clear that we wanted to make sure that the new facilities are available for use for all users.”

Cllr John Thomson, Wiltshire Council’s Cabinet member for communities, says the courts should be accessible to the whole community, so bookings have to reflect that.

The two new courts became available for public use on Monday July 1. They are available Monday to Thursday until 5.30pm, Friday all day and from 1pm on Saturday and Sunday.

The Club says on its website: “Further evening hire will become available when League tennis finishes in August and other times may also be available.

To book, call 07525 496000 or email melkshamtennisclub@talktalk.net.